Labour general conference | Party showcases Mintoff pedigree and ‘star candidates’

Speakers intone against PN sleaze machine, democratic deficit and extends business-friendly hand.

The Mintoff factor: Yana Mintoff Bland gave Labour delegates a historical link with the former prime minister.
The Mintoff factor: Yana Mintoff Bland gave Labour delegates a historical link with the former prime minister.

Additional reporting by Miriam Dalli.

Progressives and moderates, old and new. Inside Labour headquarters, the general conference buzzed with the excitement of a prospective electoral campaign that is catching the prime minister napping. As speaker after speaker regurgitated the mantra of "tired government" and missives against the PN's unofficial sleaze machine, one delegate's speech broke the tedium with her English-affected delivery.

Yana Mintoff Bland, 61, delivered a brief speech against the "right wing" and the 'GonziPN' government she is only recently experiencing after leaving the United States to tend to her ailing father, former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff.

With her pedigree and radical street-cred (at 26, the 'coprophilic dissident' threw horse manure inside the House of Commons in protest against the British military presence in Northern Ireland), Yana Mintoff symbolised the link to Labour's past that showed the party's sense of ascendency today was also based on unprecedented unity inside the Opposition.

"My father taught me that the working man comes first, to think first of the working class and the suffering... and my mother gave me this accent," Mintoff said, whose mother's noble stock also set her apart from the Labour delegates.

Her speech today was tempered by the wisdom of age, but there were inklings of her father's anti-militarist doctrine. "Democracy and sovereignty must come first and foremost. The fact that the government took us into NATO's partnership for peace in 2008 without discussing it in parliament is shameful. The new government must nurture democracy and our country's freedom."

Even when she turns to the problems she sees in Malta, she mentions air pollution as a direct consequence of the country's "failed" energy policy to install a heavy fuel oil plant at Delimara. "Or 'smelly-mara' I should say. It was the most beautiful place in the world," she says of her father's summer residence, l-Gharix, which became the backyard to the new power station built by the Nationalist administration in the 1990s. The Mintoff family were handsomely compensated for the bother with over €1 million in damages from the law courts.

"Except for a clique of crooks, working conditions in this country have deteriorated. I emphasise that the family is the basis of the economy, and if the family is weak, the problems of alcohol and violence are more likely to increase, and with that comes a lack of education and quality of life.

"The roots of all development lies in the health and peace of the country, the family and the environment... the right wing is not greater than the left, the difference lies in caring, caring about the poor among us, the family, our culture, education, and the environment."

Her nod to Joseph Muscat, entrusting him with a government that "will give Malta stability", was met by the Opposition leader's approving finger-gun gesture.

Other star candidates took to the podium, hailing Joseph Muscat's ability to bring the Labour party in from the cold that marked its anti-EU days. Among them were people like divorce campaigner Deborah Schembri, once a Nationalist who protested Labour's stipend cuts for university students. Another was lawyer Emanuel Mallia, who also hailed Muscat's ability to bring to his party former Nationalist voters, and announced his candidature.

Former Sea Malta chairman and Labour MEP candidate Marlene Mizzi, took up the mantle for Labour's business-friendly face, stressing on "the importance of entrepreneurs" and of the meetings Labour's business forum had with unions and entrepreneurs.

"A look at the party's past reveals it always was a workers' party. It is thanks to Labour that we have strong workers' rights today. Today Labour is also the employer's party, and we must take care of the employer and eradicate the 'us versus them' concept between employer and the employed."

Mizzi said Labour had to send a clear message that it was both on the side of workers and employers. "We recognise that it's the employer's investment that creates wealth and growth... we want to send a clear message that employers are the oil in the machine of the economy. The middle class is no longer the exclusive social class of the Nationalist party."

The standing ovation for Robert Abela, son of the former Labour deputy leader and President of the Republic George Abela, was deafening: yet another link to the recent past when things went downhill for Labour in 1998.

Abela mounted a scathing criticism of the Nationalist administration:

"What does it take for this government to admit it to the crisis it is passing through? The Prime Minister says we are not in election mode, and yet he called on Austin Gatt to take care of the election campaign just a few days ago. If he sees him as such an asset, why didn't he tell him to resign and take of the party machine? It's clear the party is more important than the country to Lawrence Gonzi."

Abela said Labour did want to take power, "but while the PN wants power for a small clique, we want the power to do good. That's the fundamental difference between the two parties."

Abela said the government had assumed a "divine right to power", offering nothing new but "20 years of the same faces... at least in 2008 they had GonziPN to save their face."

Speeches of the day also focused on the criticism that was now also emanating from rebel Nationalist MP Franco Debono. Broadcasting policy, party financing, the environment of democracy were all favoured themes of the day.

Education shadow minister Evarist Bartolo mentioned Debono as yet another victim of the "campaign of lies" from both the official and unofficial PN media. "They are ready to lie about you... but Joseph's movement welcomes people from every walk of life. They criticised Debono because he comes from a small village like Ghaxaq, because he's not somebody's son. This is the way they treat their own people."

Bartolo said Labour's campaign will have to fend off the government's "lies". "We must be ready for more lies, that we will reduce stipends, reduce learning support assistants for children with special needs, that we'll increase school hours until 4pm... they need these lies because teachers are angry with the government.

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Ms Mintoff please do us a favour,go back from where you came and leave us alone. There is no need to tell us about the past days when Mr Mintoff was prime minister. For sure you do not know that the same delegates you had in front of you were the same people who in 1998 called your father TRAITOR.
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while I might agree with abela's attack on the nationalist administration, I find it rather funny coming from him.. who after all enjoys being the legal counsel of MEPA... nahseb kontra qalbu qed jaghmilha jien...
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agree with many of the female speakers-excellent- Abela is an obvious asset. Mallia, lets not go there. I can just imagine the shine in the eyes of the PN strategists knowing all the dirt they can dig up on this lifelong nationalist. He will be a liability to an otherwise excellent group of candidates.
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jgalea: stuff your jealousy... you are seeing the LP united again (and maybe as never before),with the best people in this country united behind a great inspiring leader and is making you desperate.You PN supporters always mention violence in a manipulated way,but never mention the truth,it was Labour supporters that suffered first from violence in this country.Is that the Christian way you preached about?
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Insejtu kemm fahhartuh lil Mintoff meta ma kienx jaqbel ma Alfred Sant? Iz-zaghzugh Joseph mhux biss rega gab lura dawk li kienu birdu mill-PL imma ohrajn li qatt ma kienu mal PL issa se jikkontestaw mal-PL kontra il-PN. It-terrimot veru wasal bis-sahha tal-ghaqal ta' Joseph.
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@jgalea, imma kif ma tisthijx? Jekk issemmi il mejtin, u li mietu martri, ghax ghalija hekk mietu, ghalmenu semmijhom it tnejn, lil Raymond Caruana u lil Karen Grech. Jew ax missier Karen kien laburist ma ssemijiex? Jien kif diga ghadt, ghat tnejn li huma jiddispjacini, u it tnejn ma nafhomx. Int tghid li temmen fi Kristu? Insomma anke fi zmien Kristu kien hemm l oqbra mbajda u il farizej, ahseb u ara 2000 sena wara.
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tghid robert abela kellu quddiemu l-istess delegati li fil 1998 tghidx kemm ghajjru lil missieru illum president ta malta u sahansitra kellu jitlaq mil partit. tghid kellu l-istess delegati li fil 2008 cahhdu lil missieru milli jilhaq kap tal partit laburista. koz kemm jinbidel iz-zmien.
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@ antoin vella and jgalea, just look at the pool of talent that PL is pushing foward and then compare with the rag tag team of incompetents in your party. Now you even started fighting amongst yourselves proving that Franco is not the only problem. What about the Mintoffjani are back , the Mintoffjani are the ones who built the pensions system so that when you come back from Vienna you can enjoy a better life than most of us aspire for.
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Antoine Vella: Jidher li ma fadallux energia biex jikteb aktar minn erba kelmiet ! Ma nlumux meta qed jara l-missili niezlin fuq GonziPN, mhux l-aktar mill-PL izda mid-deputati tieghu stess !MIn jaf x'offrielu lil Franco Debono llum wara nofs in-nhar biex ihenn ghalih u ghal shabu l-ministri, halli jibqghu igawdu s-salarji, il-perkacci u jigbru l-mijiet ta' eluf minn ghand dawk li jtuhom il-kuntratti, almenu ghal xi 15 il-xahar iehor!
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I watched the whole thing on TV and felt that those who are commenting that the Mintoffian era is back just because of the short intervention of Mintoff's daughter, are just scared that another force as huge as Mintoff is back. The lady, Yana Mintoff, i think, came through as a sensible, moderate and intelligent lady who loves her country. I was never a fan of Dom Mintoff but I can think of much worse characters in the current PN Cabinet! I felt that it is the ladies who took the lime light for their smartness and sensibles speeches. Deborah Schembri was superb as was Marie Louis Coleiro. But perhaps the cookie goes to a person who in the past would have been a strange character among the PL, Marlene Mizzi. With her usual designer chic( not usual in socialist circles!) stnading up for business community ( not usual in socialist meeetings) Mizzi has opened the doors to those business people and the middle classes who thought the PL was not for them. She chose her words well, managing to send a very clear message without jarring the PL hard-liners , traditionally working class persons. Times are indeed changing, tk goodness.
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Yes wthe MINTOFFJANI are back. We never left so just put up with it and get used to it again Antwa ans co.lol
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LOOK WHO'S TALKING !!!
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LOOK WHO'S TALKING !!!
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@ jgalea.....Take a break and go and watch this www.maltapolitics.com
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We have the new leader! (the new joung Mintoff is back again!!
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@j.galea, bil-kummenti tieghek veru qed taghmilhom gieh lid-demo-kristjani u tawgura tajjeb ghall-generazzjoni gdida. Mohhkom biex tfakkru l-imghoddi. Lilna l-Laburisti mhux Mintoff ghamilna l-hsara, ghax ghollina mill-faqar li konna fih, imma l-Knisja Kattolika Appostilika Rumana, li il-Partit Nazzjonalista dejjem ra kif jirkeb il-karru taghha. Int mela kemm ghandek eta' biex twarrab mill-istorja l-hnizrijiet tas-snin sittin. Ikbar u ejja naghtu lil Malta nifs gdid. X'jigri jekk jinbidel il-gvern, toqghodu ssemmu l-Korea etc, mhux kollox mortu tilaghqlu l-warrani, il-mexxejja demokristani tieghek, kemm lokali u l-barranin, anki l-istess Stati Uniti. Twerwer biss taf..anzi suppost in Kristjan u taspira fiducja...
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well done joseph.... this is the best team any Labour Party has ever had. Nowadays I am proud to be Labour! Dont forget.. we are the underdogs.. let them continue with their internal fighting and let us only get stronger!! DARIN FARRUGIA.
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@ Jgalea. I pity you. You are still living in the distant past. Mentioning 1971 to a teenager is like reminding a 50-year old of the Boer Wars. Wake up or, if you prefer, remain sweetly slumbering.
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The circle is closing. Joseph campaigning in the second district and Dom Mintoff's daughter a speaker at the Labour's General Conference. It does not augur well for the PN that the PL is so united, and become even more solid as the election approaches. Perhaps an election later in the year, or even next year, would find Labour even stronger.
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Well done to all the speakers in the Labour Party General Conference. The Party seems to be living a new the days of 1971 and 1996, and this team, there is such a diversity within it, they I am confident it will not falter. Please keep the working class as priority, but let us respect the others sectors and build up again the middle class, which vanished under the Gonzi PN. Now the whistle is already in Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's mouth. He can blow it for a general election, anytime. Personally I would have wished that a number of issue are dealt with, regarding fair and just general elections, but it seems we are heading for a 'hotch potch' general elections, despite the three kings strategy 'positive or dirty' to diminish the heavy defeat ahead for NP.
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Yes, the Mintoffjani are back.
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X'differenza bejn il-Partit Laburista u GonziPN. Fuq naha ghandek il-Partit Laburista, li jaf bil-problemi li jrid jiffacja il-Pajjiz,PL li qieghed juri li ghandu l-kapacita li b'idejat godda ta' diversi nies b'kapacitajiet kbar jgib il-Malta wiehed mill-aqwa pajjizi fl-Unjoni Ewropeja, u mill-banda l-ohra GonziPN, li hlief glied kbir intern m'ghandux. Nies Nazzjonalisti b'kapacita jahilfu li ma jergghux johorgu ma'GonziPN.Membri Parlamentari jghiru l-xulxin,Gvern fejn il-Priministru jqatgha il-gimgha jinhella jipprova jsolvi inkwiet intern milli jmexxi pajjiz.
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After this conference I am convinced that the LP under the leadership of Dr Muscat is ready to lead this country. I was really moved by Dr Mallia's contribution although I cannot say the same for Dr Robert Abela.
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Nitthassru lill partit socjalista. Konferenza li tixxibah ma konferenza tal mexxejja tal Korea ta Fuq. Taf x ghandna niftakru? Mintoff farak pajjiz b regim. Vjolenza, tghajjir. Sfruttar tal festi tal Indipendenza, tal Barrani, Raymond Caruana. Poplu Malti tafdajomx lil dawn. Ghid LE ghal dejjem ghal ideologija socjalista, u IVA ghal ideologia DemoKristjana. IVA PN :)

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